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Iron-Making Societies

Iron-Making Societies: Early Industrial Development in Sweden and Russia, 1600-1900

Edited by Maria Ågren
Copyright Date: 1998
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Iron-Making Societies
    Book Description:

    The title of this book has a double meaning: on the one hand, it deals with two very different societies both of which made iron in the early modern period. On the other hand, iron "made" these societies: the needs of iron production and the resistance to these demands from local peasant communities gave the societies a special kind of cohesion and rationality.

    This volume presents the findings of a joint team of Swedish and Russian scholars examining the social organization of work in early modern iron industry and their respective societies. The comparison was carried out against the backdrop of the international discussion on proto-industrialization, its prerequisites and consequences. There has, however, been a certain bias in much of that debate, the focus being mainly on Western Europe, particularly on Britain, and on textile trades. This book offers an important contribution to the debate in that it widens the perspective by discussing Northern and Eastern Europe and by studying the iron industry. More particularly it examines actual production processes, the organization of work, social conflict, questions of ownership and its evolution, as well as the diffusion and organization of technical knowledge. The comparative approach is consistently applied throughout, with each chapter closely integrating the results relating to the two selected geographical areas, thus showing ways of solving some of the problems arising from comparative history.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-803-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. viii-ix)
    Rolf Torstendahl
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-ix)
  6. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. x-x)
  7. [Illustrations]
    (pp. xi-xii)
  8. Part I

    • Chapter One Introduction: Swedish and Russian Iron-Making As Forms of Early Industry
      (pp. 3-32)
      Maria Ågren

      In 1738, Daniel Tilas, a member of the Swedish Board of Mines, was sent to Russia to investigate the state of the Russian metal industry. Travelling first through the province of Ingria, close to St Petersburg and until quite recently part of the Swedish realm, Tilas visited the deserted copper works at Krasna selo, with its adjacent brass works, and then proceeded to the royal ironworks at Systerbäck. Here, he and his fellow travellers were greeted by Wilhelm De Hennin, who at the time was in charge of Systerbäck and of the rifle factory at Tula, but who had previous...

    • Chapter Two Iron-Making in Peasant Communities
      (pp. 33-60)
      Maria Sjöberg and Anton Tomilov

      The art of iron-making has long been known and widely practised in both Russia and Sweden. Long before the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the state in both countries energetically encouraged the iron producers to establish themselves – and even expand – in the international market, iron-making was a natural part of peasant production. What happened to the peasants’ iron production when the state and financially strong groups became involved in the iron industry? And what happened to the peasants? The following discussion focuses on both of these questions.

      At first the iron was extracted from lake and bog ore....

    • Chapter Three The Social Organisation of Work at Mines, Furnaces and Forges
      (pp. 61-138)
      Anders Florén, Göran Rydén, Ludmila Dashkevich, D.V. Gavrilov and Sergei Ustiantsev

      In the introductory chapter the phases in the development of the iron industry during the early industrial periods were discussed. Broadly speaking, Ural iron-making has been categorised as a large-scale industry based on the social foundation of the feudal estate, while the Swedish industry was smaller in scale and showed a social structure in which peasants,bergsmän, merchant capitalists and ironmasters played important roles. In the following discussion this will be further elaborated to examine how social change can be seen in the organisation of work in different parts of the chain of production in the two regions. Quite literally,...

  9. Part II: Integration of the Agrarian Environment in Iron Production

    • Chapter Four The Social Organisation of Peasant Work
      (pp. 141-178)
      Maria Ågren, Nina Minenko and Igor Poberezhnikov

      In Sweden as well as in Russia, the peasantry played a crucial role in early iron production. Peasants carried out a wide range of tasks relating to transportation and the provision of fuel, raw materials and foodstuffs. They were, to use a metaphor, the blood vessels through which the ironworks were kept alive. The image of a social metabolism whereby the agrarian economy interacted with early metallurgy does, however, threaten to make the relationship seem too smooth, at least if we have large-scale industry in mind. In actual fact, making the ironworks’ rural neighbours integrated and reliable partners of the...

    • Chapter Five Charcoal: Production and Transport
      (pp. 179-217)
      Maths Isacson and Igor Poberezhnikov

      Charcoal was the principal fuel used in the early industrial production of iron, and was predominant in the Urals and in Bergslagen long after the British ironworks started using coal as fuel from the end of the eighteenth century. This had been made possible by the puddling process. It is possible that the iron producers’ great dependence on charcoal prevented the concentration and centralisation of iron production, as has been claimed.¹ The early industrial production of iron was, as has been described, spread over a wide area, with an obvious advantage; the decentralised production structure prevented the over-exploitation of the...

    • Chapter Six Households, Families and Iron-Making
      (pp. 218-244)
      Göran Rydén and Svetlana Golikova

      Over the last twenty-five years, the study of family history has experienced a phase which, to use Walt Rostow’s term, can be characterised as a take-off. Peter Laslett wrote in 1972, in the introduction to the book that was really the starting point to this phase, about the ‘unpopularity of the subject’.¹ This could hardly be said today. The discipline has expanded, both in terms of published titles and new journals, and in terms of its penetration into new areas of research. Family history must today be seen as one of the most vital areas of historical study.²

      The guiding...

  10. Part III: The Institutional Environment and How It Changed

    • Chapter Seven Community and Property
      (pp. 247-275)
      Maria Ågren, Vladimir Zhelezkin and Vladimir Shkerin

      When Samuel von Stockenström visited St Petersburg in the 1780s, he praised the quality of Russian iron and the skills of Russian forgemen. In these respects, he maintained, Russia was fully comparable to Sweden. He was less appreciative of the way the Russians had ordered their economy, though. Raw materials were wasted and production control was inadequate; this explained why profits were not higher. Ironmasters ought to live at their works, know more about production and supervise their subordinates, von Stockenström concluded. Moreover, the Russian state should follow the example of the Swedish state and lay down rules as to...

    • Chapter Eight Knowledge: Its Transfer and Reproduction in Occupations
      (pp. 276-306)
      Rolf Torstendahl, Ludmila Dashkevich and Sergei Ustiantsev

      Knowledge is a wide concept and we use it in its widest sense here, making no distinction between knowledge and skill. The limitations we make are imposed by the character of this chapter. Primarily, we will limit our attention to such knowledge as is relevant to mining and iron-making. Further, our perspective is limited to the forms in which knowledge was transmitted and the relationship of these forms to the state. Some forms were encouraged by the state, others were left outside its influence. The main discussion of Russian and Swedish forms of state influence in the field so defined...

    • Chapter Nine Iron-Making Societies: The Development of the Iron Industry in Sweden and Russia, 1600–1900
      (pp. 307-326)
      Anders Florén

      Iron-Making Societies, the title of this volume, can be understood in two different ways. During the eighteenth century the two regions under study, the Urals in Russia and Bergslagen in Sweden, were the principal areas in which iron was ‘made’ to supply the European market. Given our approach to regions and regional development, as outlined in chapter 1, which views them as functional entities made up by human interaction, rather than applying a purely geographical concept of physical and natural regional borders, it also seems relevant to assert that it was iron that ‘made’ these societies. To a large extent...

  11. Glossary
    (pp. 327-329)
  12. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 330-331)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 332-347)
  14. Index
    (pp. 348-356)